tv Mosaic World News LINKTV April 9, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT
all we have left is our faith in each other. one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. [ alternative rock music plays ] woman: goat island is a chicago-based, collaborative performance company that has six members. there's four collaborator/performers, a videographer/filmmaker, and myself. i direct.
one, two, three, four. the term "performance art" was coined in the early '70s, and it was something that visual artists started doing, using the body rather than using clay or using paint. artists started working with their bodies as their art form. [ music continues ] man: i think people tend to call us performance because performance is the term that encompasses everything that can't be defined as theater or dance or sculpture. anything that people have a question about, they say, "that must be performance."
and so that's what we are. we don't think a lot about what we are. we just do it. i have to be extremely involved. otherwise, i can't do it. it's like i have to be inside the movement. we're a group that works collaboratively. that, even though we do have a director, we all have input, and we're all making the work as it goes along.
we all have a hand in the process and in shaping a piece, so that's really important to me. [ music continues ] man: i like the long sections that goat island is sort of famous for, of repetitious movement. and, to me, it's very meditative, and just those visuals of people moving in space over and over again, so you can really saturate your mind with what it is. one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. hixson: the actual making of these pieces,
that usually take a year and half to two years with us meeting three times a week -- the actual process of that is that people bring in text, they bring in gestures, they bring in music, they bring in concepts. yeah, that's right. the pieces usually start with a question or an exercise. and they brought in performative responses, and what i mean by that is something that could be performed, like a gesture or a piece of music or a song or a line. one, two, three, four, five, six. the question really gives us an excuse to explore what we're thinking. ...all clap your hands for amelia earhart. ritual and endurance are things that have been of interest to the group.
matthew was interested in working on this character in the hitchcock film "39 steps." mr. memory! karen was interested in working on amelia earhart. and the old, reliable tomato juice. but what really happens is that we follow a lot of different tangents in the belief of everything being interconnected. i think that's a philosophical belief that underlies our work. man: i think one of the most important things about working with this group is the way ideas feed off each others' energy and create a way more complex piece. saner: goat island's work, i think, is much like painting in that there are many layers and many patinas of ideas that are layered one over the other, as colors are on a canvas. it is very visual.
every day, he commits to memory 50 new facts. facts from history, from geography... from the newspapers, from scientific books -- millions and millions of them, and remembers every one of them. hixson: with our work, there's not a linear form where you follow a strict kind of story line and character development. this is much more like poetry. there is the use of metaphor, and it breathes differently. there's a place where an audience member can come in and interpret it. test him, please, ladies and gentlemen. ask him your questions, and he will answer you,
fully and freely. mr. memory! [ audience laughing ] i'll also add, ladies and gentlemen, before retiring, that mr. memory has left his brain to the museum of science and industry. goulish: i think that a big, big part of this performance is about the presence of people who are no longer alive. mr. memory is kind of a personification or emblem of the past in the present, in a human form. hixson: there's a lot of thought around this being an end-of-the-millennium piece. i don't think we set out to do that,
but i think we're kind of looking back at the history of the 20th century. mr. memory is our image of holding all this history in his head. a...question...please. who was the last british heavyweight champion of the world? bob fitzsimmons. he defeated jim corbett... heavyweight champion of america... in kishiesh...kinshu... costa del sol... ruhr...spiertung... frettomar... in october 1897.
am i right, sir? right! goulish: humor is a very important part of our work, i think partially because we're just -- as people, we're interested in things that have a sense of humor to them, that don't take themselves too seriously. and on some level, i think we're just funny people, and we can't really escape that. next question, please. how far is...winnipeg from...montreal? mike walker. [ audience laughing ]
he became... america's fattest man when he reached... the unreal weight... of one thousand... one hundred... eighty-seven...pounds. am i right, sir? quite right! hixson: in being a maker of this work, i look at it like life. when i get up in the morning and brush my teeth and listen to the radio, i'm filtering a lot of different information. my life isn't like a piece of literature with a beginning, middle, and end. in my actual life, i am processing a lot of different things at one time. woman: they're beating up the guards. are you going to do that dance?
can i? i'd like to. we are working on the idea of mr. memory, or of amelia earhart. these are like fulcrums that we can bring all the other things that we're thinking about around them. woman: ...by being the first woman to fly solo across the atlantic. christopher: the voice was really important to me, and the speech pattern -- the way that she sounds rehearsed when she speaks in these things. yesterday, i hopped off from los angeles about noontime, and landed in newark this morning after a nonstop, transcontinental trip. she has a certain stiff, formal way of speaking to the camera, so i liked that. i really wanted to use that. well, i carried some water, of course, because my cockpit is very warm... and i carried a sandwich. i didn't eat it, though. goulish: i would say maybe 80% of what we do in goat island is imitating something or someone.
it's a lot like, maybe, what children do when they see a movie that they really liked, then they go home and reenact parts of it. ...the old, reliable tomato juice. i like the idea of amelia being constructed, and i think it's something that we're going to use later. hixson: the second part of the process, we start seeing connections, and we see connections that whadn't anticipated, and the piece gets bigger than us, where we have to start responding to it, because it's become something that's bigger than even the four or five of us. or maybe the table isn't there when matthew pulls the fan, but it goes there later. christopher: for me, the idea of having a collaborative group that doesn't have a director that just tells you what to do is like a political statement in some ways. if you all have input about what we're doing, we have to work hard to get along with each other. the table moves, for amelia, back into the audience.
that way, when amelia is up with the plane, she's speaking all around. goulish: nonstop, transcontinental speed record. los angeles, california, to newark, new jersey. nineteen hours, five minutes. yesterday, i hopped off from los angeles about noontime, landed this morning in newark after a nonstop, transcontinental trip.
saner: and what did you carry on the trip? you mean to eat? yes. to eat and drink! well, i carried some water, of course, because my cockpit is very warm. and i carried a sandwich, in case. i didn't eat it, though. and i carried some hot chocolate and...the old, reliable tomato juice. what kind of sandwich was it? [ laughs ] chicken sandwich. come on!
goulish: we created this piece in britain as well as in the united states, and being able to work in a country other than our home, we found ourselves in a constantly stimulated creative state. christopher: because the residencies in bristol and glasgow were so...i don't know... generous or something, we had almost 40 hours of rehearsal time a week instead of, you know, 15, like we usually have in the united states. so we had a lot of time to work on our piece, and we got a lot of work done in a really concentrated period of time. they have green tags in their ears. see that? saner: we've entitled this piece, "how dear to me the hour when daylight dies." and it was premiered in glasgow in scotland, and we toured it in several cities in the united kingdom, including dartington.
hixson: every time we get to a new location, thers a lot of schlepping that goes on. we've got to get the trunks out of the van, we've got to get the performers into the space, we've got to get the lights up, we've got to get the sound done. okay. paul says it gets dark around 10:00. our show is at 8:00. it's noon. but now, don't you want to have some food? the food? saner: goat island takes a lot of its content from actual history, from real events, things that real people do. in that respect, i think we are sort of developing community with an audience. you're going so fast that people can't hear you talking, so try to slow down.
in this particular piece, my role is to make some connection between the audience and the other performers. i'm the master of ceremonies. now i can understand you. i always think that the audience is the main purpose that we're performing. as a performer, i am a servant to the audience, and it's this sense of giving up myself for other people, for the audience. when you talk real fast, you can't -- you go faster than you want to go. yeah. yeah, that's right. but you can talk, but not, like, real fast, like... [ talking indistinguishably ] like, that fast, because nobody will be able to hear you.
now that's good, but try to keep your voice not fast. we'll see you tomorrow, and all you folks, don't, don't, don't forget jack nicholson. got to get down, baby! goulish: 1933. july 8. nonstop, transcontinental speed record. los angeles, california, to newark, new jersey. seventeen hours, seven minutes. 1935. april 29. first flight solo. mexico city to newark, new jersey. fourteen hours, nineteen minutes. what we want you to do now is to create a performance
that's maybe two or three minutes long. so one of you will be the director, and the whole group will be the performers. so, you're only going to get a few minutes to do that. hixson: whenever we go somewhere to perform, we usually do a workshop, and that really gives us a chance to work with others around our process, using the same exercises that we use. and that really helps us to develop a community around creativity and around ideas. oh, yeah. christopher: i love doing the workshops. and dartington, those students are already working with a lot of performance ideas, so they have a pretty sophisticated way of taking the exercises they're given and making the work that they do their own.
christopher: when you work collaboratively, and you work the way we work, you don't know what the result is going to be. we're not sort of result-oriented from the start. we're going to be taken someplace that we can't predict, that we can't conceive of from the point at which we begin. ♪ this one thing i know ♪ for he loved me so ♪ jesus' blood never failed me yet ♪ ♪ never failed me yet ♪ jesus' blood never failed me yet ♪ hixson: i like to think of goat island as a little society where things are exchanged. and when you have an idea and put six people's hands on it, things grow in directions i could have never imagined.
♪ never failed me yet saner: i think this work is about what it is to be humans in the world today, and how we deal with it. i don't know if, when people see this work, if they get any of that at all. i don't know if that's even important for us. but it is a starting point for us, you know. those things creep into the work and to the way we think about the work. ♪ ...me yet ♪ jesus' blood never failed me yet ♪ ♪ this one thing i know ♪ for he loved me so hixson: and we like to talk about our performances as being markers in this time period, because it's like this ongoing process that's continuing. but there is a point where the work is finished,